When Your Cell Phone Causes Allergies

When talking on your cell phone for long periods of time, do you find that your cheek and ear seem to be irritated or blistered afterward? If this sounds familiar, it's not a coincidence. Many cell phones contain nickel, which is a common allergy trigger.

The Scope on the Nickel Allergy Problem

Cell phone allergies caused by nickel are a growing problem in the United States according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) in fall 2010. While the reaction can affect both genders, the findings show that women seem to be more prone to a nickel allergy than men. Women may be more sensitized due to more exposure to jewelry containing nickel. Women are also more apt to buy phones with ornamentation on the faceplate that contains nickel, further compounding the problem.

Symptoms of a Nickel Allergy

A cell phone or nickel allergy typically sparks a range of common contact dermatitis symptoms. These include:

  • Severe rash
  • Extreme itchiness
  • Eczema
  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • Burn-like marks
  • Scarring

Timing of a Nickel Allergy

You'd probably expect that these symptoms would occur immediately after using your phone, but it can take a day or two after exposure before the reaction comes on. Then, it can linger for several weeks or longer. This delayed reaction can be confusing and can make it difficult to pinpoint the cause.

Other Causes of a Nickel Allergy

It's not only cell phones that trigger nickel allergies. The problem can also be sparked by other common items containing nickel, including jewelry, eyeglasses, watches, paper clips, keys, and coins. While most of these items won't be held right up against your face like a phone (except for glasses), if you touch your face and eyes after touching them, you still run the risk of incurring a nickel allergy reaction.

How to Find Relief

To ease a rash and other discomforts that accompany a nickel allergy, the experts recommend placing a cold compresses on the affected areas to help soothe the irritation and itchiness. Corticosteroid creams can also be helpful.

But of course the very best way to treat the problem is to avoid it in the first place. However, if that's not a feasible option, minimize your contact with the phone. Other strategies to help you avoid nickel allergies include purchasing a plastic cell phone cover, selecting a phone that doesn't contain metal on the face plate, or using a wireless ear piece so you won't have to hold the phone near your face. These steps can be a good call to help you avoid needless suffering.



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"Hold The Phone: Prolonged Cell Use Can Trigger Allergic Reaction." American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. ACAAI, 14 Nov. 2010. Web. 26 Dec. 2010.

 "Patients & Consumer Center: Tips to Remember: Allergic Skin Conditions." American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. AAAAI, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2010.